A lovely disc of Dvořákiana,
well chosen as a programme and generally
well performed and recorded. The recording
is perhaps a little harsh, as this source
tends to be although apparently SACD
incarnations have fared better in this
respect. Dvořák requires a certain
warmth and affection both in
execution and in sound space, a requirement
only partially met here.
The most famous works
are ‘Silent Woods’, the Nocturne and
the American Suite, although I suspect
it is in the lesser-known items that
this disc’s value lies.
The Mazurka (Mazurek)
for violin and orchestra also exists
in a violin and piano version; it is
dedicated to Sarasate. A somewhat resonant
acoustic unfortunately leads to some
muddying of textures, yet there is much
swagger to this account, plus the nostalgic
parts are given due weight.
Interesting that Yablonsky
directs the works for cello and orchestra.
He has a light touch that is most appealing
in the Rondo - some passages
are gossamer-light. The perhaps more
famous Silent Woods is similarly
impressive, with real lyric breadth
and restful aura. The recording is not
100% convincing however, putting Yablonsky
a little bit too much in one’s face.
A shame, as his tone is pleasing and
the expression well judged.
Separating the two
cello items in the disc running order
is the Seven Interludes, a set
that was new to me. Written in 1867,
they exude the confidence and freshness
of youth. The ‘risoluto’ indicator of
the first seems to have been taken with
a pinch of salt by Yablonsky, and indeed
it becomes clear he finds it easier
to bask in the Dvořákian
sunshine of, say the third (‘Con molta
espressione’, but note the wiry high
violins) than in the more exciting movements.
The finale should surely have more vim.
Most interesting musically is the ‘Serenata’
with even the Andantino con moto tempo
similarly implying calm. Here
there is a slight feeling of disquiet
that actually adds a layer of fascination
to the experience.
is an eminently approachable work that
would make a superb encore; the Nocturne
in B is possibly the most famous composition
on the disc. Alas here it sounds just
like a studio run-through, with upper
strings especially uncomfortable. The
American Suite is given a polished
performance though. The second movement
proves the highpoint, with strings coping
with the tricky lines well, and rustic
clarinets providing adorable contrast.
The fourth movement Andante contains
moments of great delicacy.
The Five Prague
Waltzes are an interesting diversion,
given here in a suave and even sometimes
glittery performance. The penultimate
one in particular is simply great fun!
The concluding Polka is funny, a sort
Hungarian/Czech Dance, gently appealing
and surely tongue-in-cheek until its
intentionally sudden and blatant ending.
some shortcomings. A great way to explore
some of the lesser-known byways of this
great composer’s output.